If there was ever a time to feel good about pampering yourself, pregnancy is it. This post contains my perspective on the most important areas to focus on self care in pregnancy for both physical and mental health.
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I am currently pregnant with my second baby and I am doing things differently this time around.
When I was pregnant with my son, I continued to work a high stress nursing job and didn’t make as much time to focus on my health.
I guess I didn’t really understand the severity of what my body was going through and kept pushing myself way beyond what I should have.
This left me feeling exhausted and completely miserable. By 32 weeks pregnant I was feeling the effects of my poor choices. I swelled up like a balloon, ended up delivering early for premature rupture of membranes, and a hell of a time nursing that first six weeks.
I vowed to myself that this time will be different. I will take the time to care for my mind, body, and soul.
I wanted to share with you my pregnancy self-care routine. I am still very early in this pregnancy, but compared to last time, I am noticing a huge difference in my energy and mood.
My 10 Best Tips for Self Care in Pregnancy
I sincerely hope these tips will give you a new perspective on taking care of yourself during your pregnancy.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
It’s strange, some days I can go nonstop and other days, keeping my eyes open is a real struggle.
As a type A person, it is easy for me to want to sacrifice sleep to be productive, especially when I know I got plenty of sleep the night before.
The reality is, we need to embrace the days we take naps and go to bed early because it is good for our health.
Hormonal changes are responsible for the constant feelings of fatigue and growing a baby takes a ton of energy reserves.
Your metabolic rate increases during pregnancy as a result of increased body mass, pregnancy-associated physiological changes, (like increased blood volume and cardiac output), and the needs of the growing fetus. (source)
Your sleep quality also goes down when you wake up multiple times a night to pee and your growing belly makes you so uncomfortable.
Whenever I find myself totally exhausted, I do everything in my power to close my eyes and nap.
This means setting my son up with some toys in his room and shutting the door or putting a movie on for him even if it is 10 am.
I know this is a short time where I will experience daytime exhaustion, so I am getting as much sleep as possible without guilt.
2. Eat Well
When I am pregnant, I change two things about my diet…
I force myself to eat things I don’t want and I don’t feel guilty about eating some junk food.
A lot of pregnant women suffer from nausea, food aversions, and food not tasting as appetizing anymore.
I am normally a super healthy eater and I really enjoy the taste of whole foods.
Unfortunately, during pregnancy I find myself craving nothing but processed junk food and even the site of a lean grassfed meat makes my stomach queasy.
I know that eating a healthy pregnancy diet plays a pivotal role in a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Which is why I still force myself to eat things, even when it makes me queasy.
This time around I also decided to track macros and calories. It is an extra annoying step but it’s the only way I can ensure I am getting enough protein and not overeating.
I gained 60 pounds with my last pregnancy.
I don’t have the luxury of gaining that much this time. I want to have a healthy pregnancy and home birth so I need to keep my weight under control.
That being said, I also am listening to my body and my cravings within reason. I try to make healthy substitutes for my pregnancy cravings.
So far I’ve made popsicles from real juice, ice cream from frozen bananas, and homemade pizza with raw cheese and organic crust.
I am aiming to eat 100 grams of protein a day to follow the Brewer’s diet as recommended by my midwife.
3. Belly Support Band
One of the things I wished I did my first pregnancy was invested in belly support earlier on.
Belly support bands help to minimize pain in your lower back and hips. It also may minimize stretch marks because you are taking some of the load off the skin on your flank.
4. Treat Symptoms with Homeopathy
We all know that pregnancy comes with a lot of unpleasant symptoms.
There are a few over the counter drugs that are “approved for pregnancy” however, I found that even some of the approved ones can cause long term side effects that are detrimental to a healthy child.
I wish I would have known about homeopathy during my first pregnancy. I have used it from everything from insomnia to uterine prolapse (which I will tell you all about that later on since I am still on the journey with this as of right now).
Homeopathy offers a safe way to ease many of the pregnancy symptoms without side effects. I bought a book specifically for homeopathy in pregnancy and I have had a lot of luck using the remedies to treat my symptoms.
5. Exercise 3-5 times a week
If there is one thing you can control for your physical and mental health during pregnancy, it is how much you exercise.
I found the first eight weeks of pregnancy I was hitting the gym with all the same vigor as I was pre-pregnancy. Then the ninth week mark hit and my energy levels dropped even more.
Instead of giving up, I decided to just tone down my workouts. I am currently going for more long walks and doing less vigorous weight training. I listen to my favorite podcast and enjoy the fresh air while my son happily eats snacks in his stroller.
As I go through this pregnancy, I plan to listen to my body, push myself through workouts, but also give myself some grace some days by doing a long walk.
Whatever your choice of workout, you will feel better and be healthier if you add this into your pregnancy routine.
6. Tell yourself positive affirmations every day
I know that no matter how hard I try to eat well and exercise during pregnancy, some weight gain will be outside of my control.
There will be some days that I don’t have enough energy to get dressed and feel like a human being.
There are definitely days I don’t feel comfortable at all.
Which is why I am making the effort to say positive affirmations to myself every day.
“What you think, you become.” ~Buddha
Positive Pregnancy Affirmations
1. My body is strong and capable of carrying this baby to term.
2. My mind is strong enough to endure natural childbirth.
3. I will bounce back from pregnancy and be healthier and happier than I was before.
4. I will find peaceful moments every day.
5. God is watching over my baby and my body.
6. My body is beautiful.
7. My instincts will be there when I need them.
7. Minimize Stress Strategically
Everyone says to minimize stress during pregnancy. Some stress is outside our control.
I have tried to think about practical ways to minimize daily stress so here is what I’ve come up with.
I do not to take on any new responsibilities when I am pregnant, so no new loans or new puppies etc. that might financially stress me.
I make more time for relaxing activities like reading and laying in the sunshine.
I do my best to leave on time for work events or activities so I am not stressed by traffic.
I try not to stay up late with my eyes on a screen because this is subtly stressful for my body.
If I don’t feel like cooking, I just don’t and get a healthy takeout meal.
Also there are plenty of homeopathic remedies for stress that are safe to take during pregnancy.
If you can think of other ways for moms to minimize stress during pregnancy, drop a comment below!
8. Join a Pregnancy Group Online
During pregnancy there are always strange things that come up and it is so helpful to have access to tons of other women going through the same thing you are.
I think one of the best things I did was join a pregnancy Facebook group. Anytime I have a question, I just post in that group and it is so active that it gets answered pretty quickly.
I also joined this Natural Birth Group since I am hoping to have a natural birth this time around.
You don’t have to go through this alone!
9. Get pedicures and massages in the third trimester
If I am being honest, the third trimester was horrible. I know some women don’t mind it but I just felt so stretched.
The only time I felt comfortable was when I was laying in bed or getting some kind of spa treatment.
I am not usually one to spend my money on all of that luxury but this time is totally a worthwhile exception.
Not to mention the fact that you can’t reach your toes anyway!
10. Prepare for Labor
My first pregnancy, I spent more time preparing the nursery and buying adorable baby clothes than I did prepping my body and mind for labor.
I was NOT prepared for labor.
There are some things I wish I would have known going into it, like how to breath through contractions.
This time around I plan on taking the time to read a hypnobirthing book to be better prepared.
Self-Care Doesn’t End Here
Lastly, before I go, I just wanted to say that dropping guilt is a huge part of pregnancy self care. If you find yourself not able to keep up with day to day life, it’s ok to disconnect. Let the guilt go!
I haven’t done anything productive in two days but every single time I rest and take deep breaths, I remind myself I am doing exactly what I should be.
One last thing. Don’t compare yourself to instagram moms whose lives look perfect! None of that matters.
I wish you a peaceful pregnancy!